The Number One Workplace Health and Safety Concern in the Office

Health and safety courses for the office

Workplace health and safety is crucial when running a business. The health and safety of your employees is absolutely crucial to running your business at its optimum. In the office, at least, workers are generally not under the same physical strain as, say, those who are out on a job site. However, this doesn’t mean that they are safe from workplace-related injuries. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.

What are the workplace health and safety risks for office workers?

Employees sitting at a desktop computer (known as Display Screen Equipment, or DSE) for an extended amount of time without proper ergonomic adjustments in place is known to correlate with musculoskeletal disorders affecting the back, neck, shoulders, hands and/or arms along with pain, visual fatigue, headache, and stress.

The effects of overuse are not simply limited to desktop users either. Laptops without proper stands promote poor posture, and the cumbersomeness of tablets and smartphones make them a prime candidate for new injuries. This can be evidenced by the rising prevalence of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, or “texting thumb”.

Employers of should pay close attention to health and safety risks such as these in offices and workplaces. This may mean bringing in health and safety consultants for advice and providing employees with workplace health and safety courses.

Cost to business

According to the NHS, out of 27.3 million days off due to work related injury across the course of 2014 to 2015, 9.5 million of these were made up of musculoskeletal disorders, and over 73% respondents to a survey on Display Screen Equipment use self-reported musculoskeletal issues.

As a responsible employer, it’s important that you pay attention to the health of your employees. You should provide the necessary health and safety training courses for employees in UK workplaces. If you do not, you run the risk of employees needing to take time off work due to a work-related injury that could have been prevented.

Reduction in harm

There are many ways that you can decrease the likelihood of injuries due to DSE use. The important part is understanding the key hazards so that you can mitigate risk. This is important from a manager’s perspective, as well as from an employee’s perspective. Empowering your employees with the knowledge of how to reduce injury is a key takeaway here.

Here are some ways that have been found to help to reduce the risk of harm associated with using Display Screen Equipment:

  • Employee training
  • DSE risk assessment conducted by trained assessors
  • Employee eye tests, conducted by an optometrist or trained medical practitioner
  • Implementing ergonomically sound solutions, including:
    • Short regular breaks
    • Adjustable desks to allow change in posture
    • Adjustable screen
    • Ergonomic chair
    • Ergonomic keyboard
    • Footrest (where required)
    • Access to information promoting stretching techniques

Workplace DSE use and the law

If you fail to do any of the following:

  • Conduct DSE risk assessments
  • Mitigate risks as a result of conducting an assessment
  • Provide adequate employee information, instruction and training
  • Provide employees with information on their entitlement to a free eye or eyesight test:

You run the risk of not meeting minimum health and safety legislative requirements which could result in your employees being injured and, if serious enough, prosecution under health & safety law.  

You can find the entire publication on Working with Display Screen Equipment from the Health and Safety Executive here.

Keeping your employees safe with DSE training options

Not only is DSE compliance essential to the health and safety of your employees – it’s mandated by law. No matter how big or small your office is, you need to ensure that you are meeting one of the key requirements in relation to providing adequate information, instruction and training to your employees.

At Howlett Health and Safety services, as part of our workplace health and safety courses we offer a DSE awareness online training course and a dse assessor training course.  If your employees are classified as a DSE user, then as a minimum they must undertake the awareness course.  Full details of both courses are on the relevant pages.

The first workplace health and safety course is for all employees and involves educating them on the importance of setting up the workstation correctly and, the risks from DSE work, and the controls that are in place to mitigate risk.  

The second workplace health and safety course offers training for in-situ workplace DSE assessors. This training means that you’ll always have an employee qualified to perform DSE assessments. This training is based on using the HSE Display screen equipment workstation checklist.

Take action now – your employees’ safety is in your hands.

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